If there’s one thing we know about search engine optimisation (SEO), is that it is constantly evolving. 2020 saw Google refine and tweak its algorithm to incorporate new technologies and user behaviours, including two Google core algorithm updates in May and December and several search feature introductions.
The great thing about SEO is that it is a long-term strategy for attracting potential customers to your website. Understanding SEO is essential for building engagement, traffic and conversions, a better user experience and all-round trust and credibility so that your website belongs on the first search page of your ideal customer.
Keeping up with modifying your SEO strategy in accordance with Google isn’t always easy and what’s even harder, is maintaining your web site’s search page rankings following each new competition and algorithm update. In this post, we will cover the important trends that can leverage your website to SEO success in 2021.
1. Invest in unique and topical long-form content
For 2021, one of the newest trends is the need to include long-form pieces; this is usually those with 1,000-3,000 words.
Now, this is not to say that content length is an absolute ranking factor. It’s not. However, time and time again, when studied, long-form content is shown to earn more links and shares than a short-form alternative. It also tends to rank higher in Google search results, by containing more keywords and qualifies for searcher intent matches.
By having longer content, you also have more opportunity to section your content with a good amount of headers – we’re talking about those all-important H2 and H3 tags. By breaking up your content with good, keyword-rich header tags, you generally have more of a chance of ranking for featured snippets, SERP positions and also adding a little contextual relevance for an improved user experience.
2. Focus on search intent
Staying on the topic of content and consequently on-page SEO, by focusing on what your potential customers will be searching for is a great strategy boosting your SEO. Google is constantly updating its BERT algorithm. This uses machine learning and natural language processing to better understand searches and what users are actually looking for and now works for almost every single query in Google English.
Since the AI search update in October last year, the Google search engine bots have become much more “conversational” so that Google can find it easier to interpret the intent of the searcher. What this also means is that websites that have content-intent mismatches will be negatively impacted. No matter how detailed or high-quality that long-form content is not satisfying user intent then BERT will ignore yours and prefer another content piece that satisfies the intent for the given query.
How do you figure out search intent?
Keyword research can help boost your understanding of topical search queries. Useful methods to carry out your keyword research include searching Google to see related questions and answers, using Google Search Console to identify the unique keywords that drive traffic to your business, or other SEO tools that help analyse the SERP results for that keyword and the likelihood that it will drive traffic to your site.
3. Don’t forget Google’s ‘Core Web Vitals’
In May 2020, Google announced three new SEO metrics called Core Web Vitals. These metrics were primarily introduced to measure user experience, including loading, interactivity and visual stability. All three metrics are basically related to just one thing, and that is page speed: how fast the page loads, how soon it gets interactive and how stable it is while loading.
Core Web Vitals will be among Google’s ranking factors this Mat and this means you will have to pay close attention to them in order to appear on the first page of search engine results. For example, if there are two pages with equally relevant content, then user experience metrics will come into play to help search engine bots decide which one should be ranked higher.
4. Consider the methods users will search Google
Putting yourself in the shoes of a potential customer is no revelation to marketing techniques; however, factoring in the methods customers use to search your field and brand are sometimes overlooked. These are split into two factors; device and search method.
Device: desktop, mobile or other?
In 2020, there were a record number of 3.5 billion smart phone users searching Google – a 9.3% increase from 2019. So no matter how aesthetic or interactive your webpage is on a desktop, it certainly pays to be user-friendly on mobile too.
A great way to check this when building and editing your site is constantly checking both editing view options – mobile and web. Reviewing each picture and making the necessary adjustments will give you higher chances of being viewed online via mobile. Google likes user-friendly pages, so instead of adding complicated swipe actions for your site, make it as simple as possible. There are many mobile-friendly tests online that you can utilise to test your site’s user-bility for mobile users.
Search method: manual or voice search?
When we think of users searching for queries on Google, it is common to assume that they are manually typing in their query. However, according to Google, a staggering 27% of the entire global population is using voice search on their mobile phones. Additionally, with voice-search devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Nest Hub constantly developing and improving, many more users are natural engaging with voice search technology.
Now, considering how users interact with this technology, we know that most voice search queries will naturally be long-tail keywords and very specific. These users are looking for specific answers to their queries when they are using voice search and are much more likely to be at the consideration stage of the funnel ready to convert, than the rest of the users.
Since voice search optimisation is still growing as more people are opting for it with the passing time, it is expected to continue trending in 2021. This is sure to become a necessity in terms of SEO.
5. New Google AI search updates for on-page SEO
Google is constantly introducing more and more features to improve the ability to take users directly to what they are looking, without to put in any work, such as scroll through an article or navigate a website.
Two major features of Google’s AI update last October were the indexing of passages and a video searches improvement. These were both promised to be put into action as of the beginning of 2021 and are sure to become two key SEO trends this year.
This change is likely to have the greatest visible impact on SEO strategy and Google Search Results Pages (SERPs) ranking.
Indexing passages on a web page, not just the web page itself, Google will now be able to find small relevant sections that relate to the search query buried in a page. This comes as a response to the rising trend of long-form content, as SEO practices find that detailed, comprehensive, long-form content is more likely to be ranked higher on Google’s first page.
This change will see a huge shift in how web pages are ranked. Rather than ranking a broader web page about a topic, Google can now rank a specific passage for a search query.
Video searches update
This update is predicted to affect 10% of searches and will emphasise the importance of adding video to several content types for SEO.
The new technique will use AI to understand different passages within videos. Rather than ranking entire videos on their topic, Google will analyse videos, assign a description tag to each section and then send searchers directly to those sections of the video.
This will undoubtedly impact SERPs and rankings and from a users point of view, will make videos easier to understand, section by section.
Should you need a helping hand improving your SEO, boosting your online presence and rankings, take our DMQ below or get in touch for a chat on how we can help you gain better positions over your competitors.